Interesting games to play with your family-Kids & Friends during COVID-19 quarantine times

COVID-19 Game & Gamer's World
COVID-19 Game & Gamer's World

10 games to play with your family during COVID-19 times (and after)

Including two you can play on Zoom


What is it about the family games we reach for again and again? They have to be simple enough for children to learn quickly, but there needs to be something about them that draws in adults. They have to be absorbing enough that it’s fun to play, even if you don’t win. And they have to encourage family members to interract, whether it’s competing for position, reacting with a groan or a giggle from an unexpected twist in the game, or trying to be stealthy about a strategy.

In case you are looking for new ones to try, here are 10 great games for families.

The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game

Ages 3+

This delightfully designed game teaches preschoolers the rudiments of turn taking, spinner spinning, color matching and stealing each other’s acorns. It’s quick to play an individual round, but there’s no way your children are going to want to stop at just one.

Connect 4

Ages 5+

Here’s one to set off the nostalgia. The rattle of yellow and red pieces pieces falling after someone pulls the blue trap door is a sound that rang through many parents’ childhoods. (It hit the market in 1974.) Anyway, the falling pieces are definitely part of the pleasure of this simple strategy game for two players.

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Sleeping Queens

Ages 6+

There’s luck in this card game – you never know what cards you’ll draw ­– but also strategy, in how you play your cards, particularly when it comes to arranging number cards in addition equations to draw more cards. Combined, it makes this game a lot of fun for a broad age range.

Rat-a-Tat Cat

Ages 6+

The object of “Rat-a-Tat Cat” is to have the four cards in your hand add up to the lowest number possible. Getting there involves memory, arithmetic, and sometimes holding a poker face. Adults enjoy playing this game, and the card reveals at the end are occasions for family groans and giggles around the table.

Apples to Apples

Ages 6+

Your kids don’t need to be reading for long before they can participate in this game of word associations. Before playing, you should go through the deck and purge any card that someone in the game is unlikely to understand. (There tend to be some dated pop culture refrerences that may confuse both kids and adults).

One thing that makes “Apples to Apples” a great game for the pandemic: it doesn’t take much tweaking to make it playable on via video chat. Everybody on the chat has to have access to a physical game, and you need to set up a Google doc that everyone can use anonymously. You also need to figure out what happens when two people play the same card at the same time (which shouldn’t happen very often).


Ages 6+

This two-player game of hunting hidden ships on a grid is perfect for video chat. No tweaks required. All you need is a set at each end, and you can play over any distance. And while adults have a small advantage when playing against kids, kids can and do prevail anyway, which is unusual for a game that involves this much thinking.


Ages 7+

There are games where you follow the features of the board: “Chutes and Ladders,” for example. There are games where you create the features of the board: “Scrabble,” say. “Labyrinth” is a game where you alter the board with every turn, pulling sliders to alter the configuration of a maze. While the principles are simple enough for kids, the logic of the shifting game will challenge adults too. It’s really fun.

Don’t bother with the “Junior Labyrinth” version of this game. It isn’t any simpler or easier than regular “Labyrinth,” just smaller.

Mille Bornes

Ages 7+

“Mille Bornes” is French for “thousand milestones.” This card game, first published in 1962, replicates the ups and downs of French auto racing, complete with wrecks, flat tires, and other mishaps. For those who are fans of mid-century graphic design, each card is a period pleasure. Players race to accumulate cards up to a thousand, while dealing out “hazard” cards to other players, and ward off the “hazards” other people play. It’s fun and entertaining. You may find those elegant cards end up looking pretty frayed and shabby before too long.


Ages 8+

This is one of three games in heavy rotation at my house (the other two are “Ticket to Ride Europe” and “Point Salad“).

The official way to play the game is to race to put letter tiles into crosswords on the table.

It usually needs some adaptations in order to make it an enjoyable contest between people of different age groups. When my kids were younger, we sometimes played it as a cooperative game, working together to lay out interlocking words and use up all the tiles.

When my son turned 12, we started playing it competitively, with the modification that he was allowed to make up words as long as he could pronounce them. (I remember belly laughs from those games.) Now my kids are teenagers, the only modification we do is a ban on two-letter words.

There is a “My First Bananagrams” game. It has fewer, larger letters than the original, and includes tiles which have two letters combined into a sound. I would skip it and just play around with a regular game.

Settlers of Catan

Ages 10+

I love games where you build things, and in this game, you build towns and local economies, making use of the materials in your lands. It’s complex, and time consuming. Allow two hours for things to play out. Different players compete for space and access to resources as they try to accumulate victory points. But even if you don’t do well in the overall contest, you can get satisfaction from completing side goals, such as building a town, or a long road.

There is a “Catan Junior” game, good for kids as young as 6. Many people like it. It simplifies the game, and shortens it to 40 minutes or so, but you still get to build things.

Originally published September 2020

For more game ideas, try:

11 cool games to play with your kids during coronavirus quarantine



Fiona Cohen lives in Ballard with her husband, two teenagers, a big vegetable garden and an absurd cat. She is the author of “Curious Kids Nature Guide,” and is working on a new nature book for kids, to be published by Little Bigfoot in 2022.

11 cool games to play with your kids during coronavirus quarantine

The best games for passing time with your family during quarantine.




Family games: In our house, we love card games and board games! It’s a great way to engage our brains and spend time with each other. Here are some favorites.


Ages: 3+

Players: 2+

Whether you play with a regular deck of cards, or you use a set made specifically for the game, such as this one full of friendly cartoon animals. The rules are simple. Spread a bunch of cards face-down on a table. Take turns picking two up and revealing what they are. If you find a pair of matching cards, you get to keep them and do a second turn. With very young kids new to the game, start with a small number of cards, say, eight, for starters. As they get better you can add more cards. Once kids master this game, they progress very rapidly to being able to beat adults at it, which makes it all the more fun.

Go Fish

Ages: 4+

Players: 3+, though it can work with 2.

Another game that can be played with a regular pack of cards or a custom deck. The rules are simple, and allow players to pluck cards out of each others’ hands. This can be a cause for hilarity or for a teachable moment about dealing with frustration and competition, depending on the time or the child.


Ages: 5+

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Players: 3+

This game is mostly based on luck, but there’s enough decision making that you can imagine your wins are due to your wily card play, while your losses are simply by chance. It doesn’t take long for packs to get worn from so much use. If you’re looking for a similar game with regular cards, do Crazy 8s.


Ages: 5+

Players: 2+

As soon as kids have the fine motor skills to place and remove the blocks, they are easily hooked on this game of suspense, in which players take turns removing blocks from the lower parts of a tower and adding them to the top. Bonus: the blocks are useful for anything kids might want to build.


Ages: 6+

Players: 2-4

A Qwirkle set consists of 108 tiles in six different colors and six different shapes. Players take turns putting down the tiles, and gaining points for each sequence. It encourages pattern recognition and tactics. The longest sequence: six tiles of the same color or shape, gets 12 points and the right to say “Qwirkle!” Finding individual sequences is satisfying, and this is an absorbing and soothing game that adults can enjoy as much as kids.


Ages: 6+

Players: 2+

This game gives a mind-bending challenge to sort cards into different sets by their shape, color, and shading. The official rules call for it to be a speed game, but if you have a child who isn’t interested in that kind of competition, you just take turns or even do it cooperatively. The business of sorting the cards is so absorbing that it can hold a kid’s attention (and yours) just fine without making it a contest.

Exploding Kittens

Age: 7+

Players: 2 to 5

Created by a team that includes Matthew Inman, the creator of the Oatmeal, this card game “for people who are into kittens and explosions and laser beams and sometimes goats” delivers goofy jokes with every card, and has a fun structure, in which every game ends up in a climactic battle to see who will be the last standing when the exploding kittens come out. Stay-at-home bonus: the game creators have come up with “Quarantined Kittens,” a way for people to play Exploding Kittens together through video chat.


Age: 8+

Players: 2

You can buy a wooden mancala set with 48 glass pieces, or you can make your own board and improvise your own pieces out of rocks, beans, pennies, or whatever you have available. You can play it outside by digging the 14 holes and finding small objects to be the pieces. (The beach is a convenient place to do this.) This game is more than 2000 years old and it endures for a reason. The rules are simple, but playing is a fun exercise in strategy.


Age: 7+

Players: 2-5

In this game, inspired by a gorgeous medieval fortress town in France, players lay down tiles to build walled cities, farms, monasteries and roads. What I love about this game is that even if you are well down in point totals, it is easy to stay engaged because you have the project of building smaller goals: such as finishing an individual town or road. For my family, this game was the introduction to grown-up complex board games. We’ve played many intriguing games since then, but this is still my favorite.

Point Salad

Age: 8+

Players: 2-6

This is a fast, easy-to-learn card game in which each card can be two things, a vegetable, or a way of getting points for different vegetable combinations. Fun perk: hearing your picky eater kids say things like “give me the cabbages!” For some reason, the age recommendation on the package is 14+, but there is nothing about the game that makes it unsuitable for younger kids. There’s arithmetic to do when adding up the score, but in my view that makes it more suitable for kids learning their math facts, not less. And it is just as much fun for adults as children. Each game takes about 15 to 20 minutes, but allow more time, because nobody is going to want to stop at just one round.

Ticket to Ride

Age: 8+

Players: 2 to 5

Players compete to build railroads across the United States in this board game. It presents a fun challenge because while the rules are easy to learn, the game itself calls for some involved strategy. And with the whole family playing the roles of gilded-age-railroad magnates, things can get goofily cutthroat.

More fun and family games:

10 games to play with your family during COVID-19 times (and after)

Meet the Seattle inventor of Taco vs. Burrito

7 great ideas for family game night

19 backyard games for beating boredom


Stay home and make art! Screen-free art activities and local online arts programs for families

Stay home and create! Make paper plates into sharks, dinosaurs, or even a weaving loom! Paint rocks, create uplifting sidewalk chalk art, or learn about the color wheel using household objects. Plus, local online art resources.




School’s out for the year? We know, this is really, really hard on everyone. To help just a little bit, we can try and see this time at home as an opporunity for more creativity, exploration, discovery, and self-expression. Here are a few art projects that require supplies you probably have around the house (if not, modify as needed), and are easy and fun to do:

Easy art projects to do at home

Sidewalk chalk rainbows!We’ve been seeing a lot of encouraging, heartfelt, beautiful chalk art on walks through the neighborhood, so why not jump on board this fun, community building effort? Create a giant rainbow in your driveway for walkers to enjoy, or (practicing letters and handwriting) spell out messages of hope like “we can do this,” “love your community,” and “stay strong” and decorate them with colorful doodles.

Painted rocks! Take a walk around the neighborhood and collect a few smooth rocks that fit in the palm of your (or your child’s) hand. Use paint or paint pens to decorate them, and then re-hide them on your walking route.Leaving little treasures for others to find (and look, but don’t touch!) is a great way to build community when we can’t be together.

Paper plate animals! Using whatever you’ve got around the house, be it paint, markers, or crayons, make your favorite animals with a little cutting, gluing, and coloring. Head to the Seattle’s Child Kids & Art Pinterest page for inspiration, and enjoy a creative crafternoon!

Household object color wheel! Learn about ROYGBIV and rainbow order, and how primary colors can mix to create secondary colors, and primary plus secondary colors create tertiary colors! Older kids can learn about complementary and monochromatic colors, too. Then, go around the house, collecting toys and colorful objects and forming a rainbow-order circle (color wheel) as a lovely visual aid.

Painting unlimited! Going through a lot of cardboard (snack) boxes these days? Us, too. Incorporate the idea of conservation into this art project and do some upcycling! There’s not a lot to this one- just lay out an old sheet so the floor doesn’t get messy, break out the paint supplies, and go to town on recycled scraps! Your pupils won’t need much direction; it can be fun for kids to simply explore the effects of paint on surfaces other than paper.

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Paper plate weaving!We’re loving the paper plate opportunities! Cut slits around the perimeter of a paper plate (make sure it’s an odd number of cuts; more for older kids, fewer for younger). Wrap yarn through the slits so that it crosses in the center of the plate until you have a “loom.” Tie a separate piece of yarn at the center of the circular loom, and begin weaving in an “over, under” pattern around the circle. Tip: Use multi-color yarn for effortless and colorful patterns.

Paper arts! Requiring no paint or color at all (unless you want to add some), paper arts provide tons of creative versatility as well as opportunities for sculpture art. Make paper flowers (and add green pipe cleaners for stems!), cut out paper Easter eggs (and “dye” them with watercolor), or make a paper chain to count your quarantine days (and write a gratitude on each strip of paper). Or, try some paper weaving or folding, origami style. Make a paper fortune teller, or tear up old magazines, newspapers and paper scraps and learn about layering and overlapping while creating collage. So many possibilities!

Geometric chalk mural!Grab the painters tape and create a rectangular grid; as big or as small as you’d like, but around 3’ x 5’ is good. Try making your grid in the driveway or even on your fence! Have kids create diagonal lines throughout the space, creating angular sections throughout. Fill each section with a different color, and when the tape is removed, the clean artwork is delightful!

Photo credit: Vonne Wilde Photography

Local art galleries offering free online learning resources

In light of the COVID-19 epidemic, many local art galleries have gone virtual and are providing a ton of learning sources at no cost. Check them out!

Stay Home with SAM. Seattle Art Museum has put together behind the scenes videos, stories, photographs of gallery pieces, and fun activites for families during the COVID-19 shelter in place. Take a tour of the new Asian Art Museum, follow prompts for creating art, study “objects of the week” and so much more.

Get Crafty with BAM. Bellevue Arts Museum presents crafting tutorials, created by their education team, on their website. Watch videos on how to make a Silly Sea Turtle, a Jolly Jellyfish hat, a Rainbow fish, and other fun crafts.

Schack Center for the Arts. Everett’s Schack Arts Center has created weekly online lessons, free to the public, that can be downloaded on their website. Learn about math by making an artful clock, create a paper banner inspired by Mexican Folk Art, paint a Georgia O’Keefe-inspired watercolor landscape, and explore many other exciting art lessons.

Frye Art Museum walks viewers through a fun vegetable stamping activity that can be done at home, using black ink or paint, a paintbrush, paper and vegetables. Check out their website for more artful online learning opportunities.

Tacoma ArtMuseum. View Art of the Pacific Northwest and other Legacy Collections, works by both national and international artists, on the virtual gallery pages. TAM is a premiere collector of thousands of Northwest art and western American art pieces, ranging from late 18th century to the present, and can be used as a high-quality resource for studying and being inspired by art at home.

Seattle Center Arts at Home. Learn about arts-based events around Seattle that have gone virtual this year, like Northwest Folklife, MoPop, Seattle Rep, Seattle Opera, and much more.

Deep Space Sparkle free art lessons. This one’s not local, but it’s an awesome resource all the same. Former art teacher and blogging entrepreneur Patty Palmer walks viewers through bright, colorful drawing and painting lessons that require few materials (think paper, crayons and markers) and are sure to delight. She created several Facebook Live tutorials during the COVID-19 shelter in space, which are always available on the Deep Space Sparkle YouTube channel.


Leah Winters is the Calendar Editor forSeattle’s Child, and a former K through 8 teacher with a Masters in Art Education from Boston University. She is also the mother to three young boys, ages 7, 4, and 1. For more ideas on themed learning from bugs to outer space to farm life and much more, check out her blog


Washington’s school buildings will be closed for remainder of 2019-2020 school year because of coronavirus

What was originally a six-week closure was extended to the end of the school year as the fight against coronavirus continues.




Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced Monday that in-person school is canceled for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year in an attempt to slow spread of the novel coronavirus that has spread around the world.

This follows a previous closure through April 24.

State Superintendent Chris Reykdal said the closure affects more than 1.2 million students statewide, including more than 80,000 high-school seniors who attended their last in-person high school class without realizing it.

The extended closure will put more pressure and more emphasis on attempts to conduct school remotely, which have varied from district to district.

Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Denise Juneau, reacting to the closure, said SPS would conduct remote learning via “a variety of methods and channels” including learning packets, video lessons and online instruction when possible.

The state superintendent, in his statement, said, “Just as our great-grandparents understood after two World Wars and the Great Depression, this generation will grow up knowing how to persevere in the face of challenges.

“These next two months will be tough,” he continued. “I won’t diminish that. However, learning must continue.”Gov. Inslee, in his statement, emphasized to students that their grades wouldn’t suffer because of the closure.


Seattle Public Schools Won’t Reopen School Buildings for Remainder of School Year

It’s official. No going back to classrooms before summer break.




Seattle Public Schools released the following news this afternoon:

Seattle Public Schools will not reopen its school buildings for the remainder of the 2019-20
school year.

While buildings remain closed, the work by SPS educators to provide continuous learning to
students will continue.

This continuity of learning includes a variety of methods and channels used by educators to
teach their students, some of which include:

• Learning packets distributed weekly
• Teacher-led video lessons distributed on our social media channels, SPS-TV and by our
broadcast partners
• Online instruction when possible
• Telephone contact

In addition to the continuity of learning, SPS will continue to provide other supports and
services, including meal distribution from the SPS Nutrition Services team.
SPS will be providing additional information in the coming days about what the extended
closure means for staff and students, including information about graduation for seniors and
information for students receiving specialized services.

For more information about the SPS response to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic,
please see our website page

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